Staff Woodworking Competition – Yesterday’s Hero By Steve Marsh

Yesterday’s Hero

WINNER 2014 Arbortech woodworking competition


Created by Steve Marsh, Arbortech Financial Controller


Novice woodworker? No 


Description of your wood art?
Scrap wood rescued from a tree which was being cut down. It was left outside to season and rot before being rescued and preserved. Showing contrast between extremes of condition within the torso. 


Where did you get your inspiration for your wood art piece?
The wood before rotting looked like a “complete” male torso. The wood itself was the inspiration.
I salvaged the wood when a neighbour cut down a very large Marri tree, originally the wood had an extra small branch which made it look much more like a male torso than it does now. The “natural” shape was displayed in my outdoor area for many years and provided habitat for many creepy crawlies and bugs. I noticed that the wood had started to rot, and I was keen to not lose the piece altogether. This coincided with me looking for a project to complete for the woodworking competition. Voila!  I decided to try and make a sculpture from the wood. I have many more pieces of wood in my yard from the same tree and hope to be making more items using this wood.


What type of wood did you use?


What Arbortech tool/s did you use to create this piece?


What was your process in the creation of this project?
Firstly I started to remove any rotten wood, this was much more extensive than I had originally thought and ended up with the almost the entire core of the branch being removed, I then decided to finish the job and hollowed it out entirely. I wanted to highlight the affects and patterns in the wood caused by its long term exposure to the elements. Even quite late in the process there small inhabitants were fleeing their homes! and yes I did feel bad!
The process was quite organic and the style of the piece changed quite significantly while working on the wood. I ended up doing far less work on some parts that I had originally intended (mainly the legs) and other parts ended up being worked much more in order to show up the contrasts in the wood. This was a much different process to the other pieces I have made, where I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to achieve before even starting the work.
Once the piece was finished I decided that it should be mounted in such a way as to highlight the contrasts between the various surfaces, so I used a piece of salvaged building timber and iron rod to mount the torso. The process was very rewarding in itself with many creative ups and downs and at one point quite late in the process I was on the verge of starting a new project, but I am glad that I saw it through and am ultimately very happy with the outcome.


How long did it take for you to complete this project?
Overall the project took about 10 hours spread over a couple of weeks. For the sanding I was able to use the new Arbortech Contour Sander which saved me an enormous amount of time, and allowed me to achieve a finish which I would have struggled to achieve otherwise. I did spend significantly longer time during the process thinking about the progress and where to from here.


How did you feel about being the winning piece for this year’s staff woodworking project?
It was great, it was especially rewarding as I had been very unsure about the piece when I was working on it and it was not until close to finishing it that I could see where it was going, even when finished I was a little unsure about it. So receiving the recognition was great, and it is always nice to receive positive feedback from colleagues and friends.


Where does this piece reside now?
The piece takes pride of place in entry hall, and does sometimes double as a hat stand. I have an old house and the hallway is quite dark so I am currently thinking about adding some lighting to the piece. If I do it would be an up light recessed into the stand.


Final comments?
When I attended high school it was compulsory for boys to do woodworking and metal working. I was never good at either and spent my entire year of woodworking trying to make a table (which my mother loved, as only a mother could). Since I have been working with Arbortech I have been inspired to try a different approach to working with wood and this has allowed me to produce a number of pieces which I have given as presents and also have around my house. This has allowed me to explore and develop a creative side which I previously would not have done. Thanks Arbortech!

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